Being a mom is a full-time job in and of itself, but the demands of motherhood can feel both overwhelming and neglected when you're completing your medical degree. Many aspiring doctors are married, parents or even established professionals who have entered the medical field as a career change. Realizing your dream of becoming a practicing physician will be one of your biggest achievements, but you obviously can't leave your children cast out while you throw yourself into your education. So, how can moms in med school make residency work without becoming absent in their children's lives? You're likely already a pro at organization, but there's more to keeping your family connected than keeping a tight schedule.
Eliminate as Much School Stress as Possible
The financial cost of becoming a doctor is one of the greatest sources of stress students face. As a parent, you want to put money toward your family's stability and children's future. You might even worry that your own career ambitions are taking away from their security due to the massive debt you'll face becoming a doctor.
While there's no way to get around the expensive cost of med school, you can ease some of the stress by making it as affordable and manageable as possible. Look into private student loans to cover the cost of your tuition; being able to choose from a list of options with flexible terms for a healthy budget can make you feel more confident about your finances. Less stress over money means greater presence when you're at home. It also equates to better sleep, something every med school mom needs as much as possible.
Keep a Close Support System
Rather than deal with naysayers who think you're being selfish for going to school, focus on people who support your dream and role as a mother. You deserve people who are proud of you and want to see you succeed. They'll cheer you on, listen to you when you need to vent and be a shoulder to lean on when you're feeling overwhelmed. Social support also helps your kids, too. Whether it's through family or close friends, having other people to love and care for them while you're busy can make a world of difference in their lives.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Tell your partner that you need help with housework, and stay in touch with classmates who can help you revise for exams. Professors also understand that you have a life outside of the classroom, and most will be accommodating if you need to postpone a test or extend an assignment deadline by a few days. If your recently had a baby, let your professors know that you're studying as a mom to a newborn or infant. They will likely be more than willing to accommodate your lifestyle and help you complete your program without taking away from time with your baby.
Acknowledge and Accept the Inevitable Guilt
You're going to feel guilty for not being with your children. If they're in school, you might miss certain events that make you feel like the worst mom ever. But you're not, and you need to recognize that guilt is a natural part of being a working mother when your schedule is so demanding. But it won't be like this forever. You will eventually graduate, complete your residency and be able to balance work and home life better.
There are milestones you may miss out on, which is why it's important to communicate with your partner and child's additional caretakers to record as much as possible. You may not make it to every soccer game, but you can watch it back with them, shower them with praise and let them know how proud you are. Ultimately, you should also remember that you're working hard to provide a better life for them, too.
Talk to Other Moms in Medicine
It's hard for someone else to understand the unique position you're in. Talking to other moms who work in the medical field can make you feel less alone and supported in your struggles. After you graduate, consider joining My Physician Group, a Facebook group of more than 115,000 certified physicians who balance their careers with parenting.